Belfast Telegraph

Lloyds dips after £3.2bn sale

Shares in Lloyds Banking Group fell back today despite the successful £3.2 billion sale of the Treasury's first tranche of shares in the lender.

The stock was down 2% or 1.8p at 75.6p, although the price was still above the 75p paid last night by a range of institutions for a 6% stake in the bank.

The wider FTSE 100 Index was also lower, off 22.4 points to 6600.6, while fellow state-backed lender Royal Bank of Scotland was down 9.1p at 357.4p after UBS downgraded the stock to neutral from buy.

Unlike RBS, analysts expect the Treasury to achieve a rapid exit from Lloyds following strong demand for last night's share placing, which was the second largest accelerated share sale behind Barclays in 2009.

Investec analyst Ian Gordon said: "We regard the Government's timing as impeccable, and it appears credible to suggest that it could yet be out in full by the election."

In other corporate news, shares in department store chain Debenhams were 2% higher after it said it improved market share during the final quarter of its financial year. Like-for-like sales were 1.9% higher in the quarter to August 31, which was in line with City forecasts for a rise of around 2%.

Despite the company's warning that the market remains "highly competitive", shares in the retailer rose 2.2p to 105.4p.